[From page 28, Business Plan Section]

      Many people who face this new task look for short cuts, such as hiring a writer as mentioned above, looking for solutions such as a template to copy, or computer software. While software packages such as Business Plan Pro (and Biz Builder) are popular programs, they are "one-size-fits-all" solutions.
      A business plan is a personal document in which you are trying to share your visions with a reader. People who read a large number of business plans can often identify the enthusiastic excitement of the writer which you can't get from a fill-in-the-blank, cut and paste document. In addition, bankers have seen the same "format" many times, and thus you lose the opportunity to make a personal impression. While the pre-made financial statements are a time-saver, they do not outweigh the advantages of creating a unique document. Many plans fail because the writer just presents the idea without any substantiation. Phrases such as "I am confident . . ." or "I feel" are signs of a lack of research. You need to create what I call the "Set/Spike" philosophy of writing business plans. You should write your plan so the readers create questions in their mind: "the Set," and then provide the research to back up and support your assertion: "the Spike." For example, my client presented his plan to a loan officer who was reviewing the financial statements and questioned the insurance expense figure. My client responded that the figure was an average of three written quotes they had received, and the payments were based on the timing required by the most stringent company. The quotes were available in the appendices section of the business plan.
       The client accomplished two things: First, he answered the question in a way that left no doubt as to the accuracy of his estimates (at least for that item) and second, he increased the loan officer's perception that he was a capable, detail-oriented manager. Bankers have told me a few of their favorite replies to their questions. They are: "It's what the computer said," "I guessed," or "I made it up," "It was in the book," "Why, isn't it good enough?" "What should it be?" (and my personal favorite) "I don't know"

Business Plan Rule #1: Be prepared to defend your business plan! It will be challenged on all fronts.

       As mentioned previously, the more eyes that can play "devil's advocate," the better. This will help strengthen your plan and let you address the challenges that arise, so you don't "blow your chances" with a VIP. As you go through the process, you may come to an impasse or get "writer's block." If this occurs, I recommend switching sections and writing on an easier subject, such as your management skills.
       In addition, you do not have to follow the outline step by step– you . . .